Resist to Commit: Concrete Campaign Statements and the Need to Clarify a Partisan Reputation

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Authors Jason Eichorst, Nick C. N. Lin
Journal/Conference Name THE JOURNAL OF POLITICS
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Democratic accountability relies on citizens to anticipate future governing behavior. We explore the strategic incentives for parties to shape voter expectations by generating vague or concrete campaign statements. Using an English-language dictionary, we scale electoral statements from all industrialized English-speaking nations to develop a measure of concreteness. Concrete statements can create electoral risks from unfulfilled expectations. Yet, political parties have incentives to use concrete statements to clarify reputation uncertainty associated with unclear informational cues. Political context shapes these incentives. Incumbent parties tend to dictate concrete statements to balance attributed responsibility for government outcomes and signal that they are competent managers. Strong government performance, however, reduces the incentive for incumbents to be concrete, as favorable outcomes reveal competent management. Opposition parties are unconstrained from these demands. The research reveals how...
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R
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